Over 300 cadets and staff from Squadrons within the Warwickshire & Birmingham Wing of the Air Training Corps took part in a parade through Daventry to mark the 70th Anniversary of the formation of the Air Training Corps.
The parade on Sunday 06th February, marched through the streets of Daventry to the Holy Cross Church where a service was conducted by the Wing Padre Rev Brian Castle and vicar of Holy Cross Rev Owen Page.
During the service the Air Cadets all reaffirmed their promise and the Padre reflected on the comradeship and family spirit fostered within individual Squadrons throughout the Corps during the last 70 years.
Following the service the parade marched past the VIP's with the salute being taken by the Deputy Lieutenant for Northamptonshire Sir David O'Dowd
The Air Training Corps was formed 70 years ago during the war years as battles raged in the skies over Britain . The Royal Air Force was faced with a desperate need for suitable young men to serve as Aircrew and ground crew. In order to address this need the Air Training Corps was established on the 5 th February 1941 .
The Air Cadet movement actually came to Nuneaton 72 years ago when 121 Squadron, was inaugurated on the 9th May 1939 at King Edward VI Grammar School as a unit of the Air Defence Cadet Corps. Within the borough, enthusiasm for the Corps grew and the 5 th February 1941, 121 (King Edward VI School) Squadron became part of the newly formed Air Training Corps and a second unit No. 411 (Borough of Nuneaton) Squadron was formed. After the war in April 1946, the two Nuneaton based Squadrons were amalgamated to form 121 (Borough of Nuneaton) Squadron which set up its headquarters at the Pingles Fields now part of the Ribbonfields estate.
John Phillips a former cadet of 411 (Borough of Nuneaton ) Squadron, said, “I remember being at the first recruiting meeting for 411 Squadron in 1941. It was several weeks before we got our uniforms. Like many other youngsters at that time I was mad about flying and keen to join up as aircrew. We all flew regularly at RAF Bramcote 5 OTU on Wellingtons often with Polish aircrew. We also flew in Ansons and Oxfords from 1941 onwards. Most of us went on to join the RAFVR.”
The Air Training Corps main objective during the war years was to foster an interest in aviation and provide pre-entry service training for prospective RAF recruits. However a fter the war, the ATC changed significantly and although its links with the Royal Air Force are as strong as ever, it is no longer a recruitment organisation. Today the ATC is a flourishing uniformed youth organisation which provides its young people with an extensive syllabus of citizenship, academic and adventurous training including nationally recognised BTEC and DofE Awards. The ATC is also unique in so much as it's the only youth organisation which provides the opportunity to fly in RAF aircraft and undergo glider pilot training.
Stepping back in time to the early days of the corps, Members of 121 ( King Edward VI School ) Squadron ATC on camp at RAF Madley in 1943. Front row 5th from left Flt. Lt. W.H.M Branston, OC 121 Squadron (1939 ~ 1946). 2nd from left Cadet Cpl Doug Watson who later became a Civilian Instructor with the squadron and is still with the unit today, 70 years after he originally joined. Doug is affectionately known by Cadets and Staff as the Squadrons ‘Oldest Cadet'.
After the parade Flt Lt Paul Hincks of 121 ( Nuneaton ) Squadron said, "The parade was a huge success. It was good to see so many cadets and staff from all over the Warwickshire & Birmingham on parade. In this the 70th Anniversary year of the ATC we can all look back at how the uniforms and objectives of the Air Cadets have changed significantly since 1941 but we can rest assured that the spirit and enthusiasm of our young people remains unchanged. That the ATC is a thriving national youth organisation which continues to provide academic and citizenship training the value of which is increasingly recognised in both service and civilian life.”
He added, “If you were a cadet with Nuneaton 's 121 or 411 Squadrons and have any old photographs or stories especially any depicting activities in the early years 1939 ~ 1950 we would love to hear from you.”
View More Photographs from the Warwickshire & Birmingham Wing on 70th Anniversary Parade